Repa Mekha

Endorsed by Wirth Cooperative, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Candidate Statement

1. Please tell us about the experience you have that you feel is relevant to serving on the Shared Capital Cooperative Board of Directors.

In 2016, Nexus launched a three year plan to advance the learning and practice of Community Wealth Building (CWB) in order to better address racial and economic disparities. A core part the CWB framework is a systems approach to economic development that is rooted in the values of equity, mutuality and stewardship. The first year of the plan was focused on creating an environment conducive to CWB models (cooperatives, social enterprises, technical assistance capacity, and anchor institution investment), and to prepare the soil in which the models can grow in the Twin Cities region. Our work included convening a series of learning sessions on CWB strategies and practices, and bringing together cross-sector partners to carry out an ecosystem mapping around worker cooperatives of color. In addition, we held funder briefings on worker cooperatives, and conducted an analysis with the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs on the potential in the metro area for business conversions to worker cooperatives.

In our second year of the plan, Nexus’ focus includes weaving together parts of an ecosystem that supports the growth and/or expansion of CWB strategies in communities of color, with a particular focus on cooperative ownership models. Four interrelated projects (Culturally-Based Cooperative Development Cohort; Northstar Black Cooperative Economics Fellowship; CWB AmeriCorps VISTA Cohort; and Business Conversions to Worker Ownership Initiative) will be launched to better equip organizations, practitioners and leaders with the tools required to carry out targeted strategies, including cooperative enterprises. We recognize that the work that we are doing is only part of a larger effort to create community wealth. I believe that the work I’ve have been involved in aligns with the work of Shared Capital Cooperative. Serving on the Shared Capital Cooperative’s board creates opportunity for greater alignment and impact.

2. Why would you like to serve on the Shared Capital Cooperative Board? 

I know that Shared Capital Cooperative’s Mission reflects a commitment to advancing racial equity through expanding opportunities to grow community wealth in low-income communities. This aligns with my personal and professional vocation. I bring over 30 years of experience in community-based leadership, community building, asset and wealth building strategies, organizational leadership and development, and systems change work, all with an equity lens. I believe this experience would contribute to Shared Capital Cooperative’s ability to deliver on its external work of supporting co-op development, as well as the internal organizational capacity building required to achieve that goal. I am also very interesting in learning more about Shared Capital Cooperatives approaches and practices in supporting democratic ownership models locally and nationally.

3. What are the primary challenges and opportunities you see for Shared Capital Cooperative in the future? With those in mind, how do you see yourself contributing to addressing those issues?

Although Culturally-based cooperative economic models can be found in nearly every cultural community, the field of cooperatives in Minnesota disproportionately benefits European Americans. I believe that achieving equitable economics in our region, and nation, requires intentionally tapping the creative potential of different cultural communities. We will need a broad range of knowledge and insight to understand issues, explore alternatives, and create a shared roadmap to addressing our best opportunities, as well as our most complex challenges. I bring well established and trusted relationships with many of the communities in our region that are engaged in culturally-based economic practice. I also have extensive relationships within the philanthropic and government sector. These asset would significantly benefit Shared Capital Cooperative in its efforts to build economic democracy.